Socialist Worker

Tories' plan could see NHS staff deported

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2459

David Cameron and Theresa May visit a house following an immigration raid

David Cameron and Theresa May visit a house following an immigration raid (Pic: Flickr: Number 10)

Migrant health workers from outside the European Union (EU) could be forced to leave Britain under new immigration rules, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned. 

Under the Tories’ latest immigration changes, migrants from outside the EU will have to earn at least £35,000 a year after six years to stay in Britain. 

Sakina is a nurse from the Philippines working in Guys and St Thomas’s NHS Trust in south London. 

She told Socialist Worker, “This is just ridiculous—they just want to use migrant workers. 

“They’re saying, ‘We want you to come here with your training, we want to use your contract—then go home. When you come to work in London, you don’t actually save money because you have to spend it. But you build a life here. 

“This would mean we couldn’t do that. We’d be living in limbo.”

The NHS is in the grip of a staffing crisis—and this would only intensify it.  

Sakina said, “I’m over the threshold. But it took me 15 years of work, training and going on courses to work up to a band five on the pay scale. 

“There is no way someone could do that in just six years.”

The RCN estimates that currently 3,365 nurses would be affected. But by 2020 that number would nearly double to 6,620—and if the crisis persists it could rocket to 29,755. 


Protesters vent their anger outside the Daily Mails offices in west London last month

Protesters vent their anger outside the Daily Mail's offices in west London last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)

David Cameron has unleashed new racist attacks on migrant workers since the general election and now heads the new “Immigration Taskforce”. 

Its official task is to find ways of cutting net migration.

And the Tories are also trying to win powers to impose tougher immigration controls within the EU. 

But as Sakina said, “The NHS couldn’t function without us. Even now hospitals are recruiting more nurses from overseas because they are short-staffed. 

“We are very short-staffed where I work. The hospital had to go out to the Philippines and recruit. I’d say that 80 percent of the workforce is Filipino.”

She added, “Many hospitals are relying on agencies because of the staffing shortage.” 

But the Tories have said hospital bosses have to cut the rocketing agency staff bill as part of “efficiency savings”. 

Sakina said, “They could raise everyone’s pay to get them over the threshold—but that’s not going to happen. Are they planning privatising the NHS to get costs down? 

We need to link the fight against Tory attacks on the NHS and the ramping up of racism against migrants. 

Sakina said, “I’m dying to know what would happen to nurses after six years and what would happen to the NHS. 

“They need us—and we’d still come.”

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